Empower Dalit Women of Nepal

Empower Dalit Women of Nepal enables rural Dalit women repressed by caste and gender to claim their rights and to live in dignity.
Jun 19, 2015

Earthquake Update

Balmaya in her straw mat home
Balmaya in her straw mat home

Your immediate and generous support has saved lives and reduced human suffering. Thank you!

Also a great big thank you to the Global Giving Foundation for a $10,000 donation for general relief work--when it mattered most!

Because of all of you, our Nepal partner, ADWAN, could respond quickly to people’s urgent needs in our project area. In 10 out of 11 communities, ADWAN was the only source of emergency relief. Large relief organizations have yet to show up. 

“I will never forget the day ADWAN arrived with food and relief aid. We cannot imagine the situation if we hadn’t received support from them. Thank you ADWAN for your support in this difficult time!”

Bal Maya is just one of the 760 women from our Gorkha women’s groups left homeless by the earthquakes. People who owned little before lost everything, including the stored grain they depend on for survival.

Villagers now live under the most difficult conditions: tents, tarps and recycled materials barely keep them dry during the unusually harsh weather. Cooking, eating, keeping clean and sleeping is a struggle. And in addition, the aftershocks make for constant high levels of anxiety.

While everyone is traumatized, acts of kindness and compassion abounds. People who have little, often share with those who have nothing. There is still hope--and hugs and smiles

Delievered by ADWAN, EDWON has funded the following aid:

Number of Villagers Served

  • 4,000 + mostly women and children

Where

  • Communities in Gorkha District 12-15 miles from the epicenter

Aid Delivered

  • Several thousand kilos of food: rice, potatoes, lentils and oil
  • Hundres of other items: tents, blankets, sleeping mats, and mosquito nets i
  • 150 solar lanterns to help keep women and girls safe at night (donated by partner organization HIO, Thank you!)

On its Way

  • Additional 400 solar lanterns 
  • 140 latrines to prevent spread of disease (donated by partner organization, Nidan, Thank you!)

WHAT IS NEXT?

Reconstruction and recovery requires enormous resources, so collaboration with partners is crucial. ADWAN and EDWON are engaged in building partnerships with organizations and foundations both in and outside Nepal to help fund the massive rebuilding and recovery.

We are focusing our efforts in three areas: temporary homes, livelihoods and schools.

Temporary Homes

Our highest priority is constructing temporary shelters strong enough to withstand the monsoon. Tents and tarps are insufficient during heavy downpour. Building permanent homes must wait until the monsoon has ended in August/September. 

Temporary shelters will be constructed quickly and with recycled and newmaterials. ADWAN is mobilizing our women’s groups to collaborate with local skilled workers in building temporary shelters for theri communities over the next few months--the target is 1400 shelters.

Livelihoods  

Farmland, livestock, food grain and seed corn is damaged or lost. In collaboration with ADWAN and with input from our women groups we will be working on ways to restore livelihoods.

Schools

Most schools (7) were damaged or destroyed. ADWAN team members, teachers and volunteers have already built temporary schools in some communities. But to function well, the schools need additional whiteboards and furniture.

The View from a Village: Balmaya's Story

-Happy to be Alive, Worried about the Future-

Balmaya remembers standing in front of her garden when the entire house and ground started shaking and quavering. She fell unconscious, but thankfully woke up to see that her entire family was unharmed! When the quaking stopped, this family and most other villagers were homeless. And with her stored food buried under rubble, Balmaya didn’t know how to feed her family.

A mother of five, married to a sick man, Balmaya has been an active member of a women’s group for ten years.

The first few days, she explains, villagers waited for government aid; it was rumored that supplies had arrived at the district headquarters. Yet, they received nothing. She and others think it is because they are Dalits, “We are never a priority! “, she says.

A few days later, it was ADWAN that arrived with urgently needed rice, lentils, blankets, tents, and other items.

"I will never forget the day ADWAN arrived with food and relief aid in my village. We can't imagine the situation if we hadn't received support from ADWAN. Thank you ADWAN for your support in this difficult time" - Balmaya

Today, the family lives in a shelter made of straw, tarp, and debris, and Bal Maya worries about keeping her family safe during the monsoon. People are pessimistic about delivery of government help for temporary homes-- let alone for permanent ones.

With tears in her eyes she says, “Even though we have survived the earthquakes, our future is so uncertain! Once the aid ration is finished, I will have to borrow money to buy food and medicine.”

Since that horrible day, she has not been herself, Balmaya says. The trauma, the stress and the total destruction make her anxious for the future.

She says that members of her women’s group have met a few times since the earthquake; they plan to resume their activities and to help each other rebuild their lives. They hope ADWAN will be there for them.

ADWAN
ADWAN's Bindu with food deliveries
A blanket can mean so much!
A blanket can mean so much!
Delivery of solar lanterns to keep women safe
Delivery of solar lanterns to keep women safe
Insufficient shelter
Insufficient shelter
Good enough for the monsoon
Good enough for the monsoon
May 27, 2015

Alisha Hopes to Become a Lawyer

Alisha, right, serving milk tea.
Alisha, right, serving milk tea.

Alisha  is 15 years old and has always excelled in school. As an EDWON-sponsored child, we have followed her since 2009. When I met her in March of 2015 in Tanglichowk village, she impressed me as someone who could go far with the right kind of educational support.

Since we started the Ambitious Girls Fund, we have helped 38 Dalit girls graduate, 23 of them with a bachelor degree. We are currently supporting the education of 23 additional girls.

As a Dalit girl Alisha has already tasted the bitterness of discrimination. She has also suffered recent losses and traumas: after the sudden death of her still young father her mother remarried and moved away. But why, you may ask, did she abandon her girls? The answer is that it is just another expression of gender discrimination: while women are expected to care for children from a husband’s first marriage, they must leave their own offspring from a previous marriage behind. Alisha and her young sister are lucky to be cared for by loving grandparents.

The grandmother is a member of an EDWON women’s group--one of 14 I interviewed on my trip to Nepal in March. Sitting under a large tree with stunning views of a lush valley, we discussed both successes and challenges, while Alisha and her friend served milk tea and biscuits from a large thermos. As I sat down with her in the golden afternoon light, she told me how she loves school and that she dreams of becoming a lawyer: “I see so much injustice around me”, she explained, “ And I want to help make right what’s wrong.” With your support, Alisha has gained the confidence to dream big; her view of life and what is possible has changed forever.

But now all plans must be revised: on April 25th a massive earthquake hit--lives and dreams are shattered. The epicenter was near Alisha’s Gorkha village. Thankfully, few villagers died, but Alisha now lives in a tent with her grandparents. The neat little home built by her grandfather is just a heap of rubble, and Alisha’s school is temporarily closed. The May 12th aftershock earthquake that followed caused additional damage in Tanglichowk. The challenges of daily life and survival are immense.

EDWON continues to help fund the education of girls like Alisha. But in the current situation providing emergency relief and helping people rebuild their homes and lives take priority. Alisha and thousands of other villagers urgently need food, sandals, blankets--and to rebuild their homes.

Please give generously to EDWON’s Rebuilding Fund for Rural Dalit Women of Nepal. DONATE HERE

Bindu, Alisha and I in Tanglichowk in March 2015
Bindu, Alisha and I in Tanglichowk in March 2015
Devastation in Gorkha. Aerial photo by Brian Sokol
Devastation in Gorkha. Aerial photo by Brian Sokol
May 11, 2015

Nepal Earthquake: Getting help to rural villages

Lining up to get food supplies delivered by ADWAN
Lining up to get food supplies delivered by ADWAN

Our ADWAN team, staff, Board members and volunteers have literally been working day and night, traveling back and forth between Kathmandu and various rural villages in Gorkha to purchase and deliver much needed food and emergency aid for the last two weeks. From what the team is reporting in many of the communities they have visited, they are the only help the victims have seen coming in with supplies since the earthquake shook Nepal. Bureaucracy, and treacherous road conditions caused by mud slides are two barriers in getting relief out of Kathmandu and in to affected rural areas.

So far the team has been able to visit and deliver supplies to 10 villages: Bakrang, Bhogteni, Bakreswori, Riptok, Bunkot, Manakamana, Taklung, Fujel, Tanglichowk and Patiswara. The supplies have gone to 474 women in 23 of our women’s groups in these villages. Additionally, many other villagers have benefitted from ADWAN’s relief supplies. Most of the homes belonging to women in our program have either been completely destroyed or damaged. ADWAN has been able to organize temporary shelters with those with no access to tents.

ADWAN has now hired a coordinator to help with rebuilding efforts in response to the earthquake. He and Kamal Pariyar, ADWAN’s Director, have already started the assessment process by traveling to each village. We know partnerships with other organizations will be critical in increasing our collective capacity to respond to this massive disaster and start the rebuilding efforts. We will be updating you on the status of these partnerships in coming weeks.

 All of this work is possible because of you, our donors! Thank you for your support and continued interest in rebuilding lives and communities of our Dalit women in Gorkha.

 

Eva Kasell

Founder & President of EDWON

ADWAN Board member Bindu with a women
ADWAN Board member Bindu with a women's group
Grateful and happy for receiving food
Grateful and happy for receiving food
A destroyed home used as a shelter, Tanahun
A destroyed home used as a shelter, Tanahun

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